A mother has been sentenced to prison after her son died from strep throat, which she attempted to heal with holistic remedies.
Tamara Lovett, 48, of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, was found guilty of criminal negligence in January, after she reportedly failed to seek medical help for her 7-year-old son, Ryan, who died from a treatable strep throat infection in March 2013, WGHP reports. Lovett has been sentenced to three years in prison.
Lovett said she believed her son had the flu or a cold, but never took him to the doctor. Lovett used alternative home remedies instead, including oil of oregano and dandelion tea. Ryan reportedly died 10 days after he was infected with strep.
Court of Queen's Bench Justice Kristine Eidsvik said Lovett's sentence was intended to serve as a warning for other parents to seek help for their sick children.
"If your child is not getting better, you are legally and morally bound to take your child to an actual doctor for actual medical care," said the justice.
"Our children are vulnerable," Eidsvik added. "Lovett's actions resulted in the senseless death of an innocent child who needed her protection."
Evidence was presented in court indicating that Ryan had meningitis and pneumonia along with his strep throat infection. According to testimony from doctors, the boy could have been treated with antibiotics.
Eidsvik said Ryan "was completely dependent on his mother for using common sense in treatment choices" and that the boy died "an excruciating, unnecessary death."
"I can't begin to forgive myself," said a tearful Lovett, who said that she no longer has the same beliefs about alternative remedies and she now would have taken her son to a doctor, given the chance.
"I hope others learn from my ignorance," the mom said.
Eidsvik found that Lovett's remorse was genuine, and noted that the loss of her son was a "severe punishment" in itself.
"This sentence of three years really pales in comparison to the life sentence she's received already for being responsible for the death of her child," said defense lawyer Alain Hepner, according to CBC News.
"Tamara Lovett killed her child, that's a terrible thing for her to live with," said prosecutor Jonathan Hak. "I don't know what justice is in a case like that."
Another Alberta family went through a similar case in 2012, when 32-year-old David Stephan and 35-year-old Collet Stephan reportedly failed to seek medical help for their 19-month-old son, Ezekiel, when he contracted meningitis, according to the Independent.
The Stephans are reported to have not sought medical attention for the baby until he stopped breathing. The parents had allegedly treated Ezekiel with herbal supplements and maple syrup, according to HuffPost.
After Ezekiel stopped breathing, he was taken to a hospital, where he died a few days later.
In November 2017, David was sentenced to four months in prison and Collet was sentenced to three months of house arrest, reports The Daily Courier. The government has suggested that it will appeal the Stephans' sentences for being too lenient.